Who Is Denzel Curry? Florida's Eclectic Emcee

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Leeds Festival 2022 - Day 1
LEEDS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Denzel Curry performs on the Main Stage East on Day 1 of Leeds Festival on August 26, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)
Denzel Curry is an artist with a career that spans several years. He continues to transform as an artist and a person through his music

Denzel Curry is one of the biggest underground rappers from Florida. Although, his "underground" status has been debated since his song became a part of one of social media’s biggest trends years ago. Since jumping onto the scene, he has released multiple albums, EPs, and singles that all have their own unique sound. His features are even more varied as he has worked with up-and-coming artists like Armani White and redveil. He's also worked with well-established acts like Glass Animals and even covered Rage Against The Machine and, most recently, Erykah Badu. Naturally, his style (in music and hair) has transformed over the years. Most people associate Denzel with high-energy music. His discography has shown he has expanded beyond those days but can still return to it if needed.

Denzel Curry’s Origins

Denzel’s origins in the music world go back to the Florida-based collective Raider Klan (often stylized as RVDXIR KLVN). Music from these acts took heavy inspiration from the moody, dark piano chords and pitched-down vocals of Three 6 Mafia and other acts from the early 2000s in Memphis. While in Raider Klan, he released Strictly for My R.V.I.D.X.R.S. and other mixtapes whose titles had direct connections to the imagery, style, and branding of the collective.

In 2013, Denzel released a single titled “Threatz,” which featured fellow clan members Yung Simmie. Robb Bank$, and producer Ronny J. This track brought him attention in the underground world as the video began circulating because of its unique look. This song came from his debut studio album Nostalgic 64 which brought him even more attention.

Denzel's Popularity Continued To Rise

In 2015, Denzel Curry dropped “ULTIMATE” which brought him even more attention and success. One year later, a snippet from the song began circulating. People used it for the social media trend, the “Bottle Flip Challenge.” Participants would edit the video so the song’s beat would drop when they successfully flipped their bottles. This song came from Curry’s double EP 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms.

A remix version of this song was also released, which featured a verse from Juicy J. This version was released at the height of the song’s newfound popularity. In 2016, they inducted Denzel into the XXL Freshman Class of that year. His group’s cypher video also went viral. Many pointed out he was a clear standout and noticed his hairstyle solidified his authenticity as a Florida native.

Denzel Curry was preparing to show the world his new concept album since he had even more eyes on him. But, before that, he still had some high energy left in him and this was shared in his EP 13 which was released in 2017. This five-track project appealed to fans that gravitated towards him for songs like “ULTIMATE.” Almost every song has distorted bass and high-energy vocals from Denzel. Curry's lyrical ability did not falter on this project and it still served its purpose as a high-energy holdover project for his listeners.

All Of Denzel Curry’s Projects Have A Purpose

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 27: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Denzel Curry visits SiriusXM at SiriusXM Studios on February 27, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Mendez/Getty Images)

Denzel Curry did something unique for his 2018 album TABOO (officially stylized as “TA13OO”). He released the album in three parts. Each part was called an “Act” and was subtitled “Light,” “Grey,” and “Dark,” respectively. The acts were released on different days with different covers from July 25 to 27, 2018. Each part had four to five tracks. This tied into the various themes across the album, and each act’s theme signified the tone and production style of the music in it. On July 27, the album was released as a whole, with all 13 tracks arriving together. Act 2: GREY contained the single "CLOUT COBAIN," which shared Denzel's commentary on the music industry. This caught many people's eyes - even those outside of the rap world. There’s a unique look to the song titles in the track list on streaming services too.

Denzel’s 2019 album ZUU paid homage to the rapper's home state of Florida - specifically Carol City, Miami. Denzel wears a Florida Marlins jersey on the album’s cover, and the color scheme of the album’s logo is the same as the one for the University of Miami. The album’s lead single, “RICKY,” pays homage to his father and mother in its lyrics and features his father on the cover art. Features on this album included fellow Miami natives Ice Billion Berg, Sam Sneak, and Rick Ross. Denzel performed a medley of “RICKY” and “WISH” for his debut television appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. This performance brought even more eyes to him, and he brought those eyes to his hometown. 

Denzel Brings His Outside Interests Into His Music

Denzel Curry released a project with Kenny Beats titled UNLOCKED in 2020 and a remix version in 2021 called UNLOCKED 1.5. They paired it with a 24-minute short film that combined music videos for all eight songs on the EP. Each of these videos had a different animation style which tied in with the comic book-like cover art for the project. Denzel has referenced comic book and anime characters throughout his career, making this project a full-circle moment. The track titles look like file names on streaming services which was a stylistic decision made by Curry and Kenny Beats

Denzel Has Reached A New Level In His Music

Denzel Curry’s most recent full-length album, Melt My Eyez, See Your Future, was released in 2022, and its extended edition was released the same year. This album finds Denzel at his most mature yet. He covers more vulnerable topics, and his song arrangement is more strategic, layered, and varied. He cited inspiration from films for this project, and the music videos for the songs showcase this.

Perhaps the biggest standout moment from this album is the T-Pain feature. Denzel has spoken highly of how honored he was to have him on the album. The extended edition includes his live performance of the album, which was live-streamed on YouTube. He performs with The Cold Blooded Soul Band, which creates jazzy, cinematic versions of the songs on the album. Denzel easily adjusts to the new but familiar soundscape and praises the band for their efforts throughout the album. 

Denzel’s Authenticity Draws In His Listeners

Denzel Curry is a multilayered artist. He goes into every album with a specific vision in mind and executes it to the best of his ability. After sporting locs, having those locs literally save his life, then cutting them off and growing them out again, he truly has been transforming his entire career. Listeners never know what to expect from him musically, but they know he will remain his authentic self throughout it all. He may not be a household name, but his listeners will show up and show out for him, and that’s all that matters.

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